"Though I received no official response to these sophisticated and elegant tweets to the Illini Athletic Department, I would like to think that Beckman spent the evening prank calling everyone in Illinois named George McLellan and then ordering an absurd amount of hats off an internet haberdashery to hoard in his home's hat annex."
[Ed: bump. I won't reinvent such a clear, informative wheel.]
Even though Michigan did not play, there were some interesting developments in the Pairwise rankings this weekend. For a more detailed breakdown on how the Pairwise works, see here. Michigan currently sits 4th in the Pairwise, just ahead of Denver, just like they were last week.
Major events that occurred this weekend:
- Denver lost to St. Cloud St. on Friday, dropping their RPI enough that we are still ahead of them. More importantly, we also own the TUC comparison with them. If they win out, they might pass us in RPI, but they can’t pass us in TUC by winning out (as I explain below). So if we win out, we own this comparison.
- Nebraska-Omaha is currently winning their comparison with us, by virtue of a dramatically improved TUC record (a result of Bemidji State dropping out of the TUC field). They sit tied for sixth in the Pairwise
- BC swept UNH, solidifying their comparison win against us and taking away virtually any possibility of a comparison win against a team currently above us. (The path to beating BC in our comparison is so byzantine as to be irrelevant. It is also meaningless, because it wouldn’t change which region the teams are sent to.)
- Michigan State and Ohio State were both swept. Yay! The OSU sweep cost Michigan a little bit, but it was probably worth it.
- EDIT: upsets in the ECAC tournament mean that Union plays Colgate in the quarterfinals of the ECAC playoffs. Had Union drawn 8th seed Quinnipiac, they would have had a chance at getting as many as four wins over TUCs, but now they can only get two. Since the difference in TUC record between the two teams is half a game (same ties and losses, Michigan has one more win), this means that if Michigan wins out, they can't be passed, since any team they play after this weekend would be a TUC (except, maybe, for LSSU, if they somehow get past Notre Dame). Yes, it's weird that this matters, but the important thing is that it was good for Michigan.
This weekend’s important games:
- Michigan hosts either BG or LSSU (EDIT: BG beat Northern, so we play BG). Neither are a TUC, so it would be nice to draw BG, since they are really bad, but either way, a sweep is a must.
- Denver hosts Minnesota State. Other than the Michigan series, this is the series of the weekend for Michigan fans, and your rooting interest is a little strange. Weirdly enough, you are rooting for a Denver sweep. The reason is that Minnesota State is currently just above the TUC cliff, and Denver has a 3-0-1 record against them. Also, Neb.-Omaha is 2-0 against Minnesota State. So dropping them out of the TUC field would actually help us in both comparisons. A sweep would do that; I don’t think Denver winning 2 out of 3 is enough. The improvement in RPI that Denver gets from a sweep is more than offset by the resulting precipitous drop in their TUC record, and virtually eliminates the chance that they could pass us if we win out. If Denver does lose a game, root for them to lose a second one as well.
- Neb.-Omaha hosts Bemidji State. This one is a little awkward as well. A Bemidji win makes them a TUC and really hurts UNO, but helps Denver a bit. Still, as long as we beat Denver in RPI we’re ok there, so go ahead and root for Bemidji State to get at least one win.
- Union hosts an as-yet unknown (and probably bad) ECAC team. EDIT: due to upsets in the ECAC tournament, Union plays Colgate, who is the Bowling Green of the ECAC. It also means that Union only has, at most, two more TUC games left, so if Michigan wins out, it is virtually impossible for Union to pass us. In any event root against Union in case Michigan doesn't win out. You are hoping that someone (probably Yale) eventually takes them out in the ECAC tournament.
- Merrimack hosts Maine, who just crushed them last weekend. Any wins by Maine this weekend will prevent Merrimack from passing us until at least next weekend, so root hard for Maine. This comparison is very close, and will swing Merrimack’s way if they get a sweep.
- Finally, Miami hosts either Northern or Alaska. Any Miami loss will help keep us ahead of them; those two head-to-head losses mean we have to win every comparison, so root against Miami.
Even a Michigan sweep could see them dropping down to 5th or 6th in the Pairwise. Remember that the Pairwise is very fluid, and there is still another very consequential weekend to go after this one. Go Blue!
Tales from Last Night
Last night went much better for Michigan than did Monday. The relevant results for the Wolverines:
- Harvard beat Penn 79-64. The Crimson are a past opponent, so we want them to do very well.
- Princeton beat Dartmouth 77-55. We wanted Princeton to lose because they're Harvard's competition for the Ivy League title and NCAA Tournament bid.
It was a small schedule last night, and everything went as expected.
Looks like The Matrix isn't going to update before tonight's relevant games start, so the table below comes from yesterday's update.
Per the Bracket Matrix:
|Bids||Bubble In||Bubble Out||Change|
|Big East||11||Marq (10)|
|SEC||5||Tenn (9), UGa (10),||Bama||Bama out.|
|Big Ten||6||Mich (12), MSU (10), Ill (9)||Minn, PSU|
|ACC||5||Clemson (12), BC (12), VT (11), FSU (9)||Mary|
|Big 12||5||Neb, Bay, Colo, OkSt|
|Pac-10||3||Wash (9), UCLA (8)||USC, Washington St.|
|Atlantic 10||3||Richmond (11)|
|Mountain West||3||UNLV (8)||Colo St|
|West Coast||2||Zaga (12), St Mary's (11)|
|Colonial||2||George Mason (8), Old Domin (8)||VCU|
|CUSA||2||Memphis (12), UAB (11)||USM, UTEP, Marsh, UCF|
|WAC||1||Utah State (9)|
|Horizon||1||Butler (12)||Cleve St, UW-Mil|
|Summit||1||1-bid Oakland (13)|
|Ivy||1||1-bid Princeton (13)||Harvard|
Chart doesn't include last night's results.
Big day. General rule: cheer against bubble teams, and for past Michigan opponents.
- Kansas @ Missouri (Noon, CBS). The Jayhawks are a past Michigan opponent, so you want them to win.
- Virginia Tech @ Clemson (Noon, ESPN2). These are both bubble teams, but Virginia Tech has a stronger resume right now and Clemson is also a past Michigan opponent. Pull HARD for the Tigers.
- Indiana @ Illinois (Noon, BTN). You want Indiana to stay above the 200 RPI threshold, so Michigan's loss to them isn't as bad. Plus, the Wolverines own a win over Indiana but not Illinois. This game could also hurt the Illini's psyche before a possible first-round BTT matchup with Michigan. HOWEVA, Indiana ain't gon' win, so don't worry about it.
- Duquesne @ Richmond (Noon). The Spiders are a bubble team, and you want the Dukes to do everything in their power to change that.
- Georgia @ Alabama (1:30, ESPN3). Both are bubble teams, but the Bulldogs are slightly stronger right now, and you want Alabama to knock them down to their level - especially since the Tide probably lost their main at-large chance against Florida the other night.
- Iowa State @ Kansas State (1:30, ESPN3). Iowa State has no shot at an at-large bid, so you want them to do as much damage as possible to Kansas State.
- Oregon @ Arizona (2:00, CBS). Haha, most of you have to watch this instead of a game that more than 8 people care about. CBS hates you.
- Virginia @ Maryland (2:00, ESPN3). Root for the Hoos to end Maryland's chances to get an at-large.
- UTEP @ SMU (3:00). Though UTEP is a fellow bubble team, they're a past Michigan opponent so you want them to do well. If the MSU game isn't going so hot, switch allegiances to SMU, I guess.
- Purdue @ Iowa (4:00, ESPN). You want Iowa to spring the upset and stay in the RPI top 200 (not gonna happen).
- Tulane @ Memphis (4:00). The Green wave can end Memphis's hopes to pick up an at-large bid by saddling them with a bad loss.
- Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma (4:00, ESPN3). Oklahoma State is on the bubble fringe, but the Sooners can end that on their senior day.
- UNLV @ Utah (4:00). The Runnin' Rebels are solidly in the tournament, but Utah is a past Michigan opponent.
- UCLA @ Washington State (5:30). The Bruins are solidly in the tournament, and can knock off Washington State's run.
- Marquette @ Seton Hall (6:00, ESPN3). Marquette is sliding after Wednesday's loss to Cincinnati, and this could finish them.
- Princeton @ Harvard (7:00, ESPN3). The Ivy League's website breaks down title scenarios. You are a HUGE Harvard fan in this one (see top section of this post).
- Southern Utah v. Oakland (7:00). Past Michigan opponent Grizzlies kick off their conference tournament.
- UCF @ Marshall (7:00). Both teams are on the bubble, so root for UCF because they're a little further behind.
- East Carolina @ UAB (8:00). UAB is on the bubble, and you want East Carolina to knock them off it.
- Southern Miss @ Tulsa (8:00). Same goes for this game.
- Texas @ Baylor (9:00, ESPN). You want Texas to permanently knock Baylor out of the running for a bubble spot.
- Nebraska @ Colorado (9:00). Both bubble teams, root for the weaker one.
- Colorado State @ San Diego State (10:00). The Aztecs can knock Colorado State off the bubble.
- Canisius v. Rider (10:00, ESPN3). Least important game on the docket, since both schools are highly unlikely to get anything other than an autobid. Get good karma by rooting on John Beilein's old team, though.
- USC @ Washington (10:30). Since USC lost Thursday night, they're going to miss the tournament. Root for them to weaken Washington on their way out.
- Buffalo @ Bowling Green. The Falcons are a past Michigan opponent, and you want them to end up as respectable as possible.
Tons of games today, but remember that most of them mean nothing unless the maize-and-blue can emerge victorious over MSU.
Go Blue Wear Maize Beat State.
Catholic Memorial High School in Massachusetts is the home to linebacker Camren Williams (6'2", 215 lbs) and his teammate athlete Armani Reeves (5'11", 185 lbs). The defensive pair are best friends and have both received an offer from Michigan. I'll have more from Armani on Monday, but I caught up with Camren to talk about Michigan and his recruitment overall. Here's some film from Camren at a U Conn camp, and you can see his full highlights here.
TOM: Your teammate Armani [Reeves] said you both were coming up on March 26th, is that date set?
CAMREN: Yeah, I think it's the 26th. It's either that or the 19th.
TOM: When it comes to your recruitment, with both you and Armani, I know you're really good friends but are you guys trying to pick the same school? Are you trying to be a package deal?
CAMREN: We're trying to be separate in our decision, because not all schools would be good for both of us. We're totally different kids with different majors and different positions. My favorite school might not be the best for Armani, and the other way around so we would like to, but it may not happen.
TOM: Where are you at right now with the process? Do you have a top list yet?
CAMREN: It's really down to five schools, Michigan, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Penn State, and Maryland in no order.
TOM: Is that a final list, or could that change?
CAMREN: It may change, but I want to make my decision by June so those are probably the schools that I'll focus on here on out. Depending on maybe some other schools that offer, that's my top five.
TOM: With that being said, since you want to decide so soon where does Michigan stack up in that top list?
CAMREN: I really like Michigan. That's where my dad is originally from, and that's the school I've always been rooting for since I was born because my dad is such a huge fan. It's a great school with big time Big Ten football so I'm extremely interested.
TOM: With this upcoming visit to Michigan, I'm assuming that you're going to be trying to get to know the coaches better, but what else?
CAMREN: Yeah, I hope to do that on my visit. I talk to Coach Mallory sometimes, but other than that I haven't really talked to any other [Michigan] coaches. I want to go to a high academic school that fits my major well, with a position coach that I relate really well with, and a head coach with a good vision on where he wants to bring his program in the future. I also want a school with a big time program where I have the ability to play early.
TOM: Do you already know what you want to major in? With all that being said, do you think that Michigan has a good chance at landing you?
CAMREN: I want to major in kinesiology, and Michigan has a good chance. Academics are huge for me, which Michigan obviously has. They also play big time football and that's the school I've always watched growing up. It all depends on how I like the campus and the people and all that, but I'm definitely interested.
Okay, so, somebody is going to broach it eventually. I may as well be the one.
First of all, man does he look like his dad. Second of all, man, does he have the potential to be BETTER. Yes yes... taller. No, that's not what I mean. I mean better. Don't believe me? Lets look at the- CHART?
Well, we have a table, that's almost a chart.
Those numbers represent four years of Tim Hardaway Sr. at UTEP and the season to date for Jr. at Michigan. Lets look at some comparison numbers. First off, minutes.
Right now, Tim Jr. is averaging 29.9 minutes per game, trending upward. Figure he ends up at about 30 even or slightly over. This falls in line with his father's Jr year, most closely, where he averaged 32 minutes. As such, I think it's prudent to use that as a baseline for comparing performance in a season.
You can easily see that as Sr.'s minutes and usage rose, Freshman to Jr season, his shooting percentage fell, hitting its lowest point in his Jr. year. This coincided with a rise in his overal points and PPG as he attempted many more shots per game.
Tim Jr. is shooting at an overall lower percentage than his father ever did, but is averaging more than a full PPG higher than his father did during his most similar usage year. This is because Jr. as a freshman, is shooting almost a full percentage point higher than his father ever did on threes, and is attempting many more of them. As of right now, if we see a similar leap in shooting ability aas his career progresses, and he ends up with a similar shooting percentage as a senior (not a given, due to his height, but possible), Jr. could easily average over 20 PPG.
Dishing it out, Jr. understandably lags compared to his Father's performance in a similar minutes year. This is mostly due to his height (your tall guys aren't usually your ball handlers), and the fact that D-Mo is the floor captain. However, he is very, very close to his Father's freshman numbers, and even though his minutes are starter minutes, we should see his Assist ratio increase as he gains expeience. Relatedly, in TO ratio, Hardaway has his similar minutes father beaten by one per game, but again, as he dishes it more, he'll turn it over more.
Rebounding, I think, is no contest, Jr is going to have his father beat. As a Freshman, he's basically hit his father's Sr. mark in less minutes, and has eclipsed his father's similar minutes Jr. mark by 1 per game. Also on the defensive game, steals are a push right now. He's well below his Father's similar minutes numbers, but has the freshman numbers beat, and should see them increase as he develops. His father might have the slight edge when all is said and done.
So, lets add it up with a- Table? Table.
|Player||Overall Shoting||3 Point||Rebounding||Assists||Turn-Overs||Steals||PPG|
Now, I'm not claiming that Jr. is a better player than his father yet. But I see four plusses for Jr and only three for Sr. Ask Freshman Sr. to play Freshman Jr.'s minutes, and I think the percentages go way down. Give Jr. four years of experience, some bigs to distribute it to inside, and a little more help, and look out.
Now all we need is for Jr. to develop one of these:
A few weeks ago there was a post that talked about the myth of SEC speed, and the larger issue of player quality among the different US regions. I don't know that I agreed with the article linked in that post, but it did bring up some interesting points. When I reviewed the Rivals250 watch list for 2012 , I had this in mind and began analyzing player location. Of course I didn't come up with anything other than very crude conclusions re. that particular issue, but I did find the exercise more generally informative about recruiting as a whole. I'll present it here, with the understanding that many similar analyses have likely been completed in the past, and those much better in findings and scope.
First up - where do they come from? Well, that's Texas, Florida, and California, and you knew that. The top 15 states in terms of the most R250 players:
- TX, FL, CA, GA, and LA together hold nearly half of the preliminary 250, with 124 athletes
- The Top 15 states, which you'll notice includes MI, hold 82% of the R250
- There are 34 states represented by the R250, and 19 of them have 5 or fewer players
- 16 states are not represented at all. Many of those are smaller states or Alaska, but some surprises: Kansas, West Virginia, Connecticut, and our new B1G member Nebraska have no players in the R250
- Iowa, Oregon, and Wisconsin each have 1 player
- Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Indiana (home of ND, Purdue, and IU) have 2 players
- New York also has only 2 players - it's hardly the empire state for football, despite having an enormous population. There are probably answers to those player quality questions here, which likely involve player development and the popularity of football in the area. But this is just speculation.
In terms of which conference the players belong to, I made some crude assumptions: players play at home, and states are split according to popular custom. Re. the latter, the example would be MI and OH are 100% B1G states, but PA is 2/3 B1G and 1/3 BEAST (for Penn State and Pitt respectively). FLA is 2/3 ACC and 1/3 SEC, to recognize MYTM, FSU, and UF. Yes it's simplistic. It's also hard to do it any other way.
|*B1G = 15% of total|
So yes the SEC RULZ. They get there by taking 1/3 of FLA (11 players), and all of GA (15), LA (10), and AL (8). The PAC10 comes in second by virture of CA, AZ, and WA. ACC is third? That's what 2/3 of FLA, plus MD (and their 4 OLGC players) and NC will get you. B1G is fourth, more in a bit. B12 is fifth, made up almost entirely of 2/3 of TX (the other 1/3 went to OTHER), plus 3 kids from MO and 2 from OK. The B12 is Texas in every way it can be anything. BEAST is hopeless, but that's a pretty good abbreviation eh?
The B1G is made up of OH, PA, IL, and MI. Michigan isn't in a terrible position, but with B1G regions making up just 15% of the total, needs to be in FL, TX, and CA to be a national power. ND has nothing in IN and does just fine.
What about the position breadowns?
Not sure how this compares to previous years, but the good news is that there are 39 OL and 36 WRs - two positions of need next year. DEs are also very deep - OH has six alone (and that doesn't include Pharaoh Brown or Odenigbo). But also very few DTs or TEs. MI has only one of either, and unfortunately O'Brien looks to be vexed by the orange sun and questionable head coaching strategies of UT. OH has neither a DT nor TE, and only one each of LB, OL, and DB. We'd like to keep all of the MI guys who represent, yo:
|Kelby Latta||OL||Battle Creek, MIHarper Creek|
|Danny O'Brien||DT||Flint, MIPowers Catholic|
|Royce Jenkins-Stone||LB||Detroit, MICass Tech|
|James Ross||LB||Orchard Lake, MISt. Mary's|
|Efe Scott-Emuakpor||WR||East Lansing, MIEast Lansing|
|Terry Richardson||DB||Detroit, MICass Tech|
|*128 <200s (51%)|
- 86% of the R250 are 6'0" or taller - marry a big girl
- 51% of the R250 are in the 200s or lighter, surprisingly - it's OK to marry a thin girl
- Want a 300+ pounder? There are only 17 in the country right now (though they may grow over the year): 11 OL and 6 DTs - not enough of you are marrying big enough girls
No grand conclusions, but some interesting info. I haz spreadsheet, so questions are welcome. The data at Rivals is easy to copy and paste into Excel. I'll probably update this when it changes from watch list to the actual R250. Go Blue and that is all
Big Ten Tournament kicks off Saturday and goes through Sunday where the finals will air on the BTN at 4pm.
To start, let me say the strength of a tournament is singling out the top teams and finding a champion. Slotting the remaining teams into where they belong is where its weakness is to me. It will be interesting to see how the Iowa Penn State battle will play out as I see them as the favorites to win it and they may be separated by a very slim margin. Minnesota isn’t far behind if both seem to falter. From there your looking at 3 teams fighting for 4th-6th in Wisconsin, Michigan and Northwestern. Illinois, Indiana and Purdue look to have solid showings. Ohio State and Michigan State will be the bottom dwellers. If you’d like to see a very pro-Iowa outlook, check here.
Here’s a weight by weight break down of the tournament:
Bracket Outlook: This weight is setting up for a McDonough(Iowa) Precin(NW) final. The only thing coming close to making this not happen may be the semi-final with Precin and Sanders(Minn), but, I still don’t see that happening. After Sanders there is a bit of a drop-off to Pataky(PSU) and Boyle(UM). Pataky, a senior, spent some time injured having returned just a few weeks ago. He split two matches with Boyle, winning the latter. Another drop-off from there as about 4 guys will have a legitimate fight for the final 3 spots. Top 5 spots get automatic bids to NCAA’s.
Favorite to win: Matt McDonough(Iowa)
Top contenders: Brandon Precin(NW), Zach Sanders(Minn)
Where Might You Find Your Wolverine: With the 5th seed, Boyle is already in the quarterfinals in probably his biggest match against Pataky(PSU). Winning that match sets up the best path for him to place high. Losing that quarterfinal would drop him on the side of the consolation bracket that would run into the Sanders(Minn) Precin(NW) loser before the 3rd place match. Both I consider a lose for Boyle. I’m not optimistic he gets into the semi’s and see him winning one match in the consolations before getting slotted into the 5th place match, where he would be the favorite. That would get him his NCAA bid. Probable Target Range: 4th-5th.
Bracket Outlook: Loaded weight for the B1G. Semi’s will provide just as much entertainment as the finals with 4 guys I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them won it all. Long(PSU) has in my mind been wrestling the best down the stretch. A bit of a surprise he got the #1 seed though. Graff(UW) had been the favorite until his loss to Long. Ramos(Iowa) went undefeated in B1G duals, with beating Long and no wrestling Graff. Long will have to get past a surging Futrell(ILL) who should get to the semi’s but has the toughest quarterfinal with Mele(NW). Graff and Ramos are the other semi. Those 4 will figure out the top places. I don’t see anyone beating Mele for 5th. 8 spots get automatic bids to NCAA’s. So if all the seeded wrestlers (Thorn(Minn), Stevens(UM), Paddock(OSU)) wrestle to expectations, they’re all in. Paddock may be the most in risk.
Favorite to win: Long(PSU)
Top Contenders: Ramos(Iowa), Graff(UW), Futrell(ILL)
Where Might You Find Your Wolverine: A 7 seed for Stevens will see him have to get a first round win to make sure he places. After that he’ll run into Graff(UW). From there he’ll run into a very important match in the consolations with Thorn(Minn). Thorn won this matchup earlier in a dual 11-7. Winning that match guarantees a 5th place match where he wouldn’t be the favorite against Mele(NW) but would do no worse then 6th. With 8 qualifiers he shouldn’t have a problem there. Probable Target range: 5th-7th.
Bracket Outlook: The premier weight for the B1G. The winner here might very well be the tournaments outstanding wrestler. The top 4 seeds are the top 4 ranked wrestlers in the nation and the 5th seed is ranked 7th. Russell(UM) has beat them all this year, but, they have been close matches. Kennedy(ILL) spent some time injured. Another weight were the semi’s will be just as entertaining with Russell and Kennedy (pending Kennedy beats 7th ranked Alton(PSU) in the quarters) and Marion(Iowa) Thorn(Minn). Hard to pick against Russell since he’s been winning them all. Since Marion’s return, I don’t think there has been a better contender for that #1 spot. I see a clash of them in the finals. Thorn and Kennedy will be a good 3rd place match. Alton and Friedley(NW) should manage to get the last of the 6 automatic bids.
Favorite to win: Russell(UM)
Top Contenders: Thorn(Minn), Marion(Iowa), Kennedy(ILL)
Where Might You Find Your Wolverine: Russell is the 1 seed and favorite to win. Won’t be easy though. He’ll have 4th ranked Kennedy in the semi’s and the winner of 2nd ranked Marion or 3rd ranked Thorn. He’s beat them all, but, Marion had the best shot at knocking him off this year. Probable Target range: 1st-4th.
Bracket Outlook: Here is a weight with a clear front-runner, a good guess at his finals opponent and then a lot of questions. Molinaro(PSU) and Nadhir(NW) seem like the most likely to find the finals with Molinaro to win. Schmitt(UW) is the biggest question mark. Had a high ranking before being injured earlier in the year and since returning has been unimpressive. Terrazas(ILL) and Kinser(IU) have had solid years. Grajales(UM) has been extremely inconsistent notching some impressive wins with head scratching losses. In the B1G tourney there is less surprises unlike the NCAA’s. With 8 bids, the seeded guys should all manage.
Favorite to win: Molinaro(PSU)
Top Contenders: Nadhir(NW)
Where Might You Find Your Wolverine: Grajales has a 6 seed needing to get into the quarters to make sure to place. From there I don’t see a certain unless he got to the finals against Molinaro(PSU), but, a more then likely loss in the semis against Nadhir(NW) or in the quarters against Kinser(IU). Grajales has the potential to do damage, but, Im not extremely confident in him. Lots of tough matches and being a bit undersized and young, makes for a tough go. I think Kinser nips him in the quarters leaving him to beat Osterman(MSU) again to solidify the 5th place match and getting there after losing to Terrazas(ILL). Could find the question mark Schmitt(UW) here for 5th. With 8 bids, I think he’s safe to get that. Probable Target Range: 2nd-6th.
Bracket Outlook: Taylor(PSU) has been impressive here all year, beating everyone decisively. St.John(Iowa) will have a good semi with Welch(NW) that I see St.John winning. That semi will be better then the final. I don’t see anyone else that could get Welch after that. Salazar(PUR) and Young(IU) will be the two most likely to get that 3rd place match with Welch. The biggest match for a bid might be in the consolations between Zeerip(UM) and McMurray(MSU). Winner there clinches a bid.
Favorite to win: Taylor(PSU)
Top contenders: St. John(Iowa), Welch(NW)
Where Might You Find Your Wolverine: Zeerip is a curious case. He got the nod over McMurray(MSU) for the 6 seed even though he just lost to him 8-2. He has the ability to compete with anyone after the top contenders. He’ll have Welch early in the quarters sending him to the consolations. There he’ll draw that crucial bout with McMurray. He wins there and he could fight his way to the 3rd place match. A loss and no auto-bid. Probable Target Range: 4th-7th.
- St. John(Iowa)
Bracket Outlook: Big wrench was thrown in here when Howe(UW) said he was coming back. He suffered a major knee injury early in the season and this tournament will be his first action since. He is a 2 time B1G champ and returning National champ. But, if there was a weight more wide open to walk in and win after an injury, this might be it. Not to say it doesn’t have it share of solid wrestlers though. How healthy and how far Howe can go is the biggest wildcard. Sponseller(OSU) was the favorite before the return. Yohn(Minn) and Janssen(Iowa) recently had a tight 6-4 match that Yohn came out ahead on. They’ll push Howe and Sponseller before most likely ending up fighting for 3rd. Yates(UM) and Polz(ILL) will probably find themselves in a very important match for 5th considering there is only 5 bids available here.
Favorite to win: Howe(UW)
Top contenders: Sponseller(OSU), Janssen(IA), Yohn(MN)
Where Might You Find Your Wolverine: Yates got a 6 seed and will run into Yohn(Minn) who has beat him earlier. He’ll drop to the consolations and find LaBlanc(IU) most likely. He’ll need that to guarantee a 5th place match and unless he beats the Janssen(Iowa) Howe(UW) loser, that’s where he’ll be. Probably have Polz(ILL) there in that critical battle for the last bid. Probable Target Range: 5th-6th.
Bracket Outlook: Fr. Ruth(PSU) is primed to win here, but, it’s a tight battle for who the next best is. Glasser(Minn) has a tough road, but, might be that guy. He’ll have to avenge to Jordan(UW) and beat 2 seed Heflin(OSU) again to get to the finals. Manuel(PUR) got a bad seed in my mind as he could very well be the second best guy, but, finds himself, as the 4 seed, taking on Ruth in the semi’s. That’s is he can tackle the tough task of Lofthouse(Iowa). It’s a very tough side of the bracket. Any of the other sides 4 top seeds wouldn’t be extremely surprising if they went all the way as well. I think Heflin is most likely to fall short of his seeding. The depth at this weight for the B1G is evident in their 8 bids.
Favorite to win: Ruth(PSU)
Top Contenders: Manuel(PUR), Lofthouse(Iowa), Glasser(Minn), Heflin(OSU)
Where Might You Find Your Wolverine: Zeerip caught a 7th seed, one below Jordan(UW) who he beat. Zeerip has some impressive wins under his belt, including Jordan and Glasser(Minn). That 7 seed will pit him against Heflin in the quarters who he lost to 2-1 this year. Getting a win there would bring the Jordan Glasser winner in the semi’s, which again, he has beat both. That’s 2 doable wins away from being in the finals and would be huge for Michigan. While there isn’t a match, until he’d make the finals, that he would be overmatched, there also isn’t an easy bout. Losing to Heflin probably brings Jordan and then Manuel(PUR)/Lofthouse(Iowa). I think there is a good chance he could run into Heflin again for 5th. At the least, shouldn’t have a problem getting his bid to NCAA’s. Probable Target Range: 2nd-7th.
Bracket Outlook: Rutt(UW) looks like the favorite here with a final against Steinhaus(Minn) most likely. That’s going off how Steinhaus looked in his dual beating Grambrall(Iowa). From there things get pretty close among the rest. Dallago(ILL) and Hinton(MSU) will be a good quarter match. The consolation bracket will be full of tough matches as well. This is a key weight for the team score with Iowa and PSU. Gambrall could help the cause with a big win over Steinhaus in the semi’s. Wright(PSU) has had a disappointing season to this point and he needs to turn in a much better showing for the Lions. He’s a big move wrestler, capable of catching anyone. 6 bids up for grabs and the last three could be a fight among 5 wrestlers.
Favorite to win: Rutt(UW)
Top Contenders: Gambrall(Iowa), Steinhaus(Minn)
Where might you find your Wolverine: You won’t find Collins seeded. The only Wolverine to miss out. He’ll need to pick up a win in that first round in order to make the podium. Collins only wins have been against other unseeded wrestlers, with no promising showing in his losses to others. Placing would be tough for him. Getting a bid seems out of the question. Probable Target Range: 8th-Not Place.
Bracket Outlook: Lots of top level talent here for the B1G. The top 6 seeds rank in the top 11 nationally. Figuring out who makes a run may be tricky here. Lofthouse(Iowa) has been on a tear and looked impressive. He hasn’t wrestled the favored and 2nd ranked Brandvold(UW) though. Also, Yohn(Minn) has made a less then impressive return from injury lately, but, before that was one of the top contenders nationally. He looked very rusty against Lofthouse in their dual, but, its been two weeks since then. Yohn kicks off with a tough quarterfinal draw against Powless(IU). The Brown(PUR) Biondo(UM) quarter will be another good one that round. The semi’s will be stacked, but, I can’t see anything other then a Brandvold, Lofthouse final. 6 bids are available here and after the top six seeds, there is a pretty obvious drop-off. I don’t think there will be any other surprises there.
Favorite to win: Brandvold(UW)
Top Contenders: Lofthouse(Iowa), Yohn(Minn)
Where Might You Find Your Wolverine: Biondo is the bottom man among the to 6. I see him falling out of the championship bracket quick with a loss to Brown(PUR) in the quarters. Then assuring his bid with a win in the consolations against Barczak(ILL). From there, a combination of Yohn(Minn)/Powless(IU) in the next round and for 5th, will be where he ends up. Both of which I don’t see him winning. Probable Target Range: 6th.
Bracket Outlook: The big boys. Wade(PSU) is the favorite, although vulnerable. He’s lost to Rizqallah(MSU) and needed to pull off a big comeback pin to beat Apland(UM). Alcala’s(IU) only loss has been to Wade. The 3rd seed Rasing(Iowa) has been on a rise of late, knocking off some top competition. Throw in Apland and Nelson(Minn) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of those 5 win it all. Most likely, you’ll see a Wade Alcala final though. I’m not convinced Rasing can continue his hot streak and see Apland knocking him off in consolations. Nelson might be the most likely to stop Wade and make the finals.
Favorite to win: Wade(PSU)
Top Contenders: Alcala(IU), Nelson(Minn), Rasing(Iowa), Apland(UM)
Where Might You Find Your Wolverine: Apland has had a disappointing finish to his regular season. He caught a tough seed at 5, having to face Nelson out of the gate in the quarters. That leaves a lot of work to be done in consolations. Will find himself in a key match against Rasing to get into the 3rd place match. I think he pulls it off and might see Nelson again for 3rd. Probable Target Range: 1st-5th.
Like I said, this looks like a PSU Iowa battle. It could come down to the bonus points each wrestler can pick up for them, but, most likely, how a few weights work out will be the difference.
For Penn State, they go in with 5 top seeds and favorites win each weight. 3 of those weights I don’t see PSU being tested (149,157,174). The other two are pivotal towards edging the Hawkeyes (133,285). Those both have serious contenders from Iowa in Ramos(133) and Rasing(285). Penn State needs to make sure they cash in where they are favored as much as they can since they are hurt by 2 weak weights (165,197) to Iowa’s 1 (149). If Wright at 184 and Pataky at 125 both come in with top 4 finishes and the 5 favorites come through with any big stumbles, Penn State walks away with it.
Iowa is working with a more well rounded lineup then having heavy hitters. 125 with McDonough is the only weight they are favored. But, the Hawkeyes will be shooting to place in the top 4 at up to 9 weights. They have a history of turning it on come tournament time and some of the key weights they need to do that in may be motivated after their low points against Minnesota.
Minnesota’s the only team with 10 seeded wrestlers. They are just lacking the firepower to pick up enough points to get in the mix.
The battle for 4th will be fun, although, Michigan has beat each of the contenders here heads up. In a tournament though, Wisconsin may have the advantage. They have 4 legit shots at B1G champions with Howe making a return. Those go a long way in moving up the tournament ladder. Northwestern has a couple shots at the finals earning them some decent points.
For Michigan its all about placing. They look to place in all but 1 weight. Hitting the high end of their target ranges will make a push at Wisconsin for 4th. As I see it, 5th may be where they end up.
1. Penn State
10. Ohio State
11. Michigan State